is this a democracy? (a drug debate)

I’m putting this in GD, because it seems to be a topic that usualy turns into a debate. mods, of corse, feel free to move it if you feel otherwise

Picture this: a popular ballot as to weather (and possibly which) drugs shoud be legal or illegal.
I think we could all agree on what would happen (aside from the biggest voter turnout in history), most if not all durgs would end up being legalised (feel free to debate that point as well. try as i may, i can’t find any statistics on what % of americians use drugs). So, if we live in what we like to call a democratic society, why has this not happened? How can the govenment in a free society be imposing the will of the few on the many?

Why would you assume this?

Probably because few politicians have felt that running with a “legalize drugs” platform would bear the results that you think.

I see no evidence that they are, in this case.

Oh, and just because I know someone else will point this out, eventually… The United States is NOT a Democracy. It is a Constitutional Republic.

“Since the early 1960s, there has been an alarming increase in drug use in the United States. In 1962, four million Americans had tried an illegal drug. By 1999, that number had risen to a staggering 87.7 million, according to the 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. The study also found that the number of illicit drug users who were above the age of 12 and had used drugs in the past month reached a high of 25.4 million in 1979, decreased through the late 1980s to a low of 12 million in 1992, and has since increased to 14.8 million in 1999.”
U.S. Department of Justice
Drug Enforcement Administration

Roughly 79% of Americans (275 millions) are over 15 (217) so 40% have tried illegal drugs.(World Factbook 2000) That’s still minority but I must say it is appallingly high percentage.

I like to speed. I don’t like getting a ticket. Put to a vote, I’m not sure if I’d support the elimination of speed limits. There are a lot of really crazy drivers out there that don’t need any more encouragement than they already have to accidently kill me.

BTW, I don’t feel my rights are being infringed upon because I don’t have the right to speed. I also don’t feel my rights are being infringed upon just because this never came up in a vote in my state.

Despite your claim, no one said this was a free society. There are certain guidelines we must follow and I don’t think we’re being oppressed because everything that may or may not be the majority’s viewpoint hasn’t come up for a vote yet.

As i said, i haven’t found any statistics (still looking), so this is based only on my personal experences (as well as on this thread)

These all seem to apply to the USA (particularly 1 and 2), perhaps you could elaborate as to why they do not.

And thanks to therealblaze for those stats, though due to the illegal nature of the subject matter, I would be willing to bet those numbers are a little low. I know I wouldn’t admit to using drugs on a government survey. which is why the ballot would have to be utterly confidential.

because a lot of people are making a lot of money off the War on Some Drug Users, and because it’s a great excuse for increasing the government’s power and decreasing the people’s freedom

I’m agnostic on this. I would like to think you are right, but I don’t know.

There is no constitutional mechanism for holding a national referendum. To the extent we are a democracy, we are a representative democracy, not a direct democracy.

The way it is doing do right now.

Just because they’ve tried it, that doesn’t mean they’re in favor of legalizing it. And just because they’re in favor of legalizing it, that doesn’t mean they’ve tried it.

Great, you obviously have access to a dictionary. Now look up the word “Republic”.


This was an answer to:"i can’t find any statistics on what % of americians use drugs".

Why do you consider it apallingly high?

I’m one of those 40%. At one time or another I have tried most - but not all - of the drugs that were out there. I have no regrets and no apologies, and I feel that my life has been better for the experiences. I am a perfectly normal guy with a family, kids, and a steady job. Does the fact that I have used drugs appall you? Why?

If the OP is true, then drugs would be legal already. But the reality is that no politician wishing to get elected would dare to mention the idea.

Additionally, as discussed in another thread. It would be foolhardy to simply utter the words “all drugs are legal.” We have standards that must be met for our food, our water, and our medication. It would be the same with drugs. Levels of purity of any given drug would have to be known and labeled along with all the risks that taking the drug involve. New drugs being introduced wuld have to analyzed for their risk potential and I’m sure we’d find some that are simply too lethal for us to tolerate.

The problem with the idea that voters would legalize drugs is that while voters are willing to risk their own health, they are not so willing to risk the health of their children. The ease with which teens get cigarettes today shows how ineffective any age restrictions would be. And yes, teens can easily get illegal drugs now but the risks and penalties for doing so is a deterrance for some or at least it seems to make voters feel better about the situation.

Here is an article about a poll gallup did on the legalization that found 69% of americans oppose the legalization of marijuana. I think it would be safe to assume that the percentage opposing the legalization of other drugs is as high or higher.

Because I don’t think that it is very healthy for an individual and even less that for a society. This though goes a long way from the OP and is being discussed on other drug related threads.
You may have got out fine without any side-effects but that doubtfully is true for everyone least of all for people who use drugs for a long time.
In Finland the same number is about 10%. I feel very much that even though individual drug experiences are somewhat unmeaningful the usage and experimentation in this kind of magnitude is alarming.

The definition of “republic” is irrelevant to whether our country is a democracy.

As for the OP: several states have had initiatives of the sort you mention. Here in California, medical marijuana has been legalized, and all first time non-violent drug offenders are eligible for diversion programs. Total elimination of anti-drug laws are is supported by very few people, which is probably why such an extreme initiative has not been proposed. Of course, you’re probably wondering why there hasn’t been any such national election. As for that, the reason is that the federal government is a supergovernment composed of 50 sovereign states, so the government of each state must be involved in such a decision. IOW, Congress must vote on it.

To contribute further to the debate over the dubious outcome of the initiative:

Remember that millions of American drug users are under 18. Would the under 18 crowd get to participate in this “reeferendum”?

Also, remember that there are far more people who have tried drugs and oppose legalization than there are teetotallers who are in favor of it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even if legalization were left to the American public, it wouldn’t happen. And it’s a good thing too. We aren’t a nation of rational, willpowered Dutch. We’re id-driven masturbating chimps, and we would do drugs at work, while driving, everywhere, and fuck this country up.

Gee, tell us what you really think.

Elected any Senators recently?
Try squeaking a decriminalization bill past the Senate.
A dictorship only has one unelected partisan mofo lording it over the “common people.”

Yeah, one has to admire the Dutch for having the self-control as a society to handle easily-accessible drugs. I wonder how the US would do. I suspect that the US is still far too puritanical even to consider adding to the list of legalized drugs, considering the damage done already by alcohol and tobacco. Of course, some of the illegal ones are probably less damaging than alcohol and tobacco, and some do a lot more damage. It’s just too complicated for America to figure out which ones are good and which ones are bad.

Anyway, “id-driven masturbating chimps” is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. I tend to favor more subtle band names, but maybe it would work for a metal band.

That’s not exactly what happens, but it sometimes seems that way. In this country, we don’t hold national popular votes on issues, and then just let the majority rule. Although that might sound like a good idea, it is actually a very dangerous idea that leads to extremism, demagoguery, and the tyranny of the majority.

Instead, we use a system of representative government, federalism, and checks and balances which allows the will of the people to go through a series of filters before an ultimate decision is reached. Instead of having the laws that exactly 51% of the people want, and to heck with everyone else, we have laws that most people can feel comfortable with – so we get speeding laws, although a lot of people like to speed, and drug laws, although a lot of people use drugs.

National drug legalisation would have to be enacted by Congress, which means that the people of a majority of the various states and House districts would all have to elect representatives who favored legalisation before it could be enacted. Of course, voters would be choosing their Congressional representatives based on their positions on a wide variety of issues, not just legalisation. Legalisation would be the priority issue for only a small percentage of voters.

There have been legalisation candidates in the past – the Vermont Grassroots Party (get it, “Grass” roots?) even ran a candidate for President in 2000. I think he only made it onto the ballot in Vermont, and he clearly did not have the support of the nation.

But there is absolutely nothing to stop American citizens from organizing, petitioning, and campaigning for laws and candidates who favor legalisation. The evidence so far shows that it just isn’t acceptable enough to enough of the people to become law.